In 2003, a small gallery in Bern and a small museum in Zurich teamed up and opened the first special exhibition in the then new North America Native Museum, or NONAM, in the outermost Seefeld district of Zurich. With “Inuit Art” and the collection of Martha and Peter Cerny, the museum focused for the first time on the art and culture of the Canadian Arctic. 20 years have passed since then. The Arctic is firmly established in NONAM, the Cerny Collection has grown, and climate has become arguably humanity’s greatest challenge.
It’s also been 20 years since Sedna first appeared at NONAM. Now the mother of marine animals is back, as the main character of the anniversary exhibition. In paintings and sculptures made of stone and bone, artists from Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Sampi and Chukotka bring the Arctic to life, along with its myths, legends and diverse stories. Whether human or animal, family or community, shamans, priests or the sea goddess herself, they all gather in the Seefeld. They tell of times long past and of the challenge of the present. And last but not least, IQ – which are not what you think, yet have to do with intelligence.
The legend of Sedna
Sedna was a young Inuk woman who did not want to get married. She lived with her elderly father, but she became increasingly a burden to him. Many men wooed Sedna, but none was good enough for her. Finally, she chose a stranger. Disaster followed on its heels. The stranger turned out to be a crow or a petrel and brought Sedna to a desolate island.
The father wanted to save the daughter, but the birdman whipped up the sea. The boat was in danger of capsizing. In his fear, the father threw Sedna overboard. As she clung to the edge of the boat, he severed her fingers. The limbs sank into the sea and turned into marine mammals. She herself sank to the bottom of the sea and henceforth ruled over animals and the hunting luck of man,
Sedna’s story is told in many versions. In some she is a young woman eager to marry, in others an orphan whom the community wants to get rid of. Instead of the stranger who turned out to be a bird, she sometimes married a dog or a dog turned into a man.
Take your time and visit the special exhibition “Sedna – Myth and Change in the Arctic”, which was designed with great attention to detail by the team of NONAM and Martha Cerny. Immerse yourself in the world of the indigenous peoples of the North.
A highlight that you can not miss!
Special exhibition at the North America Native Museum
February 1 – September 17, 2023
+41 44 413 49 90
Tue till Sat 13-17
Sun 10-17 h
Website: Museum Cerny
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal